Can your own cells make you look younger?

According to Fibrocell Science, Inc., the answer is YES. The company has developed a treatment where my own skin cells (fibroblasts) can be grown in a petri-dish in the company’s laboratory and injected back into my skin to reduce wrinkles and fine lines to bring back a more youthful yet natural appearance. The FDA approved the cell therapy for wrinkles in 2011: Article on FDA Approval for Cell Therapy for Wrinkles

The treatment is called “La Viv” and has been tested on clinical trial patients and is now available to the general public.

The March issue of Harper’s Bazaar ran an article on La Viv by Jessica Prince where patients reported that the treatment improved fine lines, wrinkles and large pores. While this is without a doubt exciting news, some physicians caution that not enough long term studies exist yet to know how the treatment will perform in the long term.

I will be watching this company with great interest. Although, as a former scientist (who worked with cells in vitro) I would want to see long term results (3+ years) before trying it myself. I would consider potential contamination (i.e., when cells are grown outside the body and manipulated in vitro they are subject to contamination that could potentially be transferred into the skin) or cells becoming accidentally immortalized (i.e., cells that no longer exhibit contact inhibition and have become cancerous because their DNA has changed as a result of being removed from their natural environment) or cells that simply won’t stop growing once injected (since they are fibroblast stem cells) as the biggest risk factors. According to the article in Bazaar, the concern about growing stems cells that cannot be turned off was brought before the FDA and has not been observed in any of the patients in the clinical trials or other patients (i.e., thousands of patients who have so far received the treatment).

I have no doubt that this technology will eventually replace traditional therapies. Whether or not we are there yet will have to be seen. I’ll be watching.

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